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La Veta

Satellite Image courtesy of the Huerfano County GIS Department

Looking Southwest across La Veta

The old La Veta Pass Train Station, now the new La Veta Town Hall

La Veta, Colorado is situated on the eastern side of La Veta Pass through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and at the northern opening of the Cuchara River Valley. Just south of town is the foot of the West Spanish Peak. At the southern edge of town is the eighteen hole, Tom Weiskopf designed Grandote Golf Course. La Veta is surrounded by the Great Dikes of the Spanish Peaks - large, vertical granite formations that radiate outward from the Spanish Peaks. These days the town has become known throughout Colorado as an artist colony, although there are still plenty of cattle ranchers and an elk rancher or two.

Fort Francisco

Fort Franciso
Fort Francisco

One branch of the Santa Fe Trail led westward into the San Luis Valley via Sangre de Cristo Pass in western Huerfano County near the present North Veta Pass. In 1862, a former sutler for the U.S. Army at Fort Garland, John M. Francisco, and his associate Henry Daigre built Francisco Plaza on land purchased from the Vigil-St. Vrain Land Grant south and east of Sangre de Cristo Pass. The plaza was built defensively, in a square around an open space, with the only gateway on the north side. The adobe walls were about 18 inches thick, a parapet lined the rooftops, and it served as a fort as well as a trading post.

Saloon at Fort Franciso

As the commercial center of a growing farming and ranching community, the fort housed the first post office on the upper Cucharas River. It was named Spanish Peak and opened June 15, 1871. After the forcible removal of the Utes, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad built a narrow gauge route south and west. In 1876 it reached Francisco Plaza and the town was renamed La Veta, or The Vein. The depot was located in the plaza, and the town was built around both. Francisco Plaza still stands, and other historic buildings have been moved to the site to form the Francisco Fort Museum.

Fort Franciso School House
School House

Around 1877 the D&RG built a new depot and rerouted its tracks through the town. That old depot is now La Veta Town Hall. The entire route was converted to standard gauge in 1899. The old D&RG became a scenic line in 2006 and runs excursion trains across the mountains between La Veta and Alamosa seasonally. Travelers embark and disembark at Town Hall, which is shared with the railroad's visitors' center, in the historic depot.
306 S. Main St.
POB 263
La Veta, CO 81055